Monday, February 21, 2011

Common Frog

I payed a visit to a small pond near Drumcliff in Ennis, a spot where I know Frogs breed every Spring.  They did not disappoint as there were hundreds spawning, calling and doing what Frogs do at this time of year, having fun.  There were also Smooth Newts coming to the surface to take air in the warm sunshine.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ring-billed Gull

I was in Limerick City this morning and one of the long staying adult Ring-billed Gulls was on display along the Shannon River at Howley's Quay.

Viking Gull

Below are poor photos of the Viking Gull from Rossaveel in Galway on Saturday 19th February 2011.  A Viking Gull is a cross or hybrid between a Herring Gull Larus Argentatus and a Glaucous Gull Larus hyperborealis.  It resembles the much rarer Thayer's Gull, but this bird in Galway in comparision to the Herring Gull standing next to it looks bulkier, larger and longer in appearance counting out Thayer's which is more compact and Iceland like in shape and structure.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Common Seal

Had to lead an outing today to Nimmo's Pier in Galway.  Ended up at Rosaveel in search of Gulls.  Managed to see the hybrid Thayer's type gull (Viking Gull), along with one Glaucous Gull, one Iceland Gull, a Black-throated Diver and one Little Gull at Spiddal on the way home. When searching for the gulls in Rosaveel about eight Common Seals were in the harbour, all were very curious, see below.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Great Diving Beetle

While cleaning out my Water Butt at the back of the Greenhouse this morning, I came across three Great Diving Beetles at the bottom of the Barrel.  The Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis is one of our largest beetles. This species has a dark, olive-brown, almond-shaped oval body, about three centimetres long, with the thorax bordered by dull yellow. The males have suction discs on the front feet for gripping the female while mating and smooth wing cases, on which the females have deep groves. This beetle is very common in weedy, standing or slow-flowing water and is often found in garden ponds. The three beetle in my barrel probably came from the lake in from of my house.

Great Diving Beetle male
Great Diving Beetle female
Great diving Beetle male & female

Great Diving Beetles periodically come to the surface, extruding the tip of the abdomen to replenish an air supply kept under the wings. This species will sometimes fly to outside lights at night. They are able to leave the water and fly off to colonise new ponds, sometimes landing in error on shiny car roofs or cold-frames in mistake for a water surface!   My Greenhouse must have attracted these beetles as they were flying around at night, from where they dropped onto the glass and then into the water gutters and ended up washed into the water butt.

Great Diving Beetle male
Great diving Beetle female
Great Diving Beetle male
Great Diving Beetle male & female

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Went in search of a Mealy Redpoll at Coonagh Settlement Ponds just outside Limerick City today.  There was a small flock of 14 Lesser Redpolls and all looked really interesting with one bird showing characteristics of Mealy Redpoll.


Went to the Coonagh Settlement ponds in Limerick today to look for the Mealy Redpolls and over-wintering Chiffchaffs.  There was a good mixture of birds at the site, but I noticed large colonies of Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara sprouting up on the east side of the ponds, where new soil had been brought in onto the site, during the creation of the ponds last year.  Colt's-foot grows in early spring from February through to the end of April.   It is a plant that I personally associate with sand dunes and beaches, but I have seen it growing in hills on the edge of tracks through forestry plantations.

It has medicinal properties. Colts-foot, the dried leaves and/or flower heads of the plant, is one of those plants whose botanical name reflects its medicinal application. Tussilago derives from the Latin tussis, meaning cough, and coltsfoot has long been used to treat that affliction. This member of the family Asteraceae is a low, perennial, woolly herb that in early spring produces a flowering stem with a single terminal yellow flower head. After the flower stem dies down, the hoof-shaped leaves appear from which it derives its name Colt's-foot. Over the years, Colt's-foot has been a very popular folk remedy for coughs and bronchial congestion. The leaves, the blossoms, and even the roots are ingredients in a large number of proprietary tea mixtures that are marketed in Europe for treating these conditions. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


On my search of the north Clare coast for divers last weekend there were many common wildfowl seen along the way.  A small flock of Wigeon were feeding in the corner of the harbour at Ballyvaughan as the tide rose.

Great Northern Diver

I was at Finvarra Point and Ballyvaughan Bay in North Clare last Saturday and again on Monday in search of the Pacific Diver but no luck finding it yet this year.  There were lots of good birds never-the-less and highlights over the two days were a young Common Eider, a second year Surf Scoter, Long-tailed Ducks, about seven Sandwich Terns, lots of Black-throated Divers with a least 26 on Monday and many many Great Northern Divers as seen below.